A worker uses a Bosch 65 foot laser measure on drywall.

Choosing A Laser Measuring Tool

Today’s types of measuring tools have come a long way since the humble tape measure. Laser measuring tools guarantee improved accuracy and are far more convenient for both the DIY specialist and the seasoned professional.

Features to Consider

A workers uses the Stabila LAX 300 Green Laser Level Tool Set to level a suspension system.

Prior to purchasing consider the various uses for your measuring tool. Are you are simply looking to replace your measuring tape for logging distance, or do you need a device that can perform and store calculations? Measuring tools have advanced functions that can make almost any professional task go a bit faster.

Narrowing down these functions are all smart determinants in how to choose a measuring tool. If you work remotely and need extended power all day, look for tools that have extended battery life. Some remote control features help in long-distance measuring for roads, foundations and more. Tools with multi-surface capacity not only measure, but also store different angle measurements for different surfaces or uneven surfaces at once. If you’re pouring a foundation or framing a room, many angle finders calculate and store multiple angle measurements for increased accuracy.

Look for the total range of any single device. If you consistently work in a smaller area or on bigger commercial sites or larger homes, you need a device that has a larger measuring range. You may also need a device with larger memory capacity for complex projects, such as road construction.

Bluetooth and Mobile Devices

Many manufacturers have married the convenience of laser measuring tools with the added functionality of mobile devices. Free iOS and Android apps sync with the measuring tool’s Bluetooth function to automatically store angle and distance measurements. Depending on the app’s capabilities, you can store and calculate multiple angles, distances and more for convenient onsite calculations. This makes onsite estimates and plans faster and easier. Some apps may even be able to interact with planning software, like AutoCAD, to even more easily integrate measurements into building plans, blueprints and permit packs.

Different Types of Measuring Tools

In order to make your research easier, the list of measuring tools below represents the most common types of laser measurers, and some analogue tools as well.

Laser Distance Measurer

DEWALT 100 Foot Laser Distance Measurer

Laser distance measurers are not only faster and easier to use than linear tape measurer, they are also more accurate. Simply aim the device to your end point and the distance displays on the screen. Many of these devices can also calculate various angles and perform calculations. Some of these quality measuring tools have memory capacity for auto calculations that are common to your projects or profession.

Higher-end models have a much higher range than standard models. For example, a lower-range model can measure distances of up to 20 meters. This standard model should suffice for single unit dwellings, smaller homes or offices. Larger units measure distances of 300 to 800 feet. These are well suited for larger homes and commercial projects. Road workers require distance measurers with longer ranges, and should also look for models that have Bluetooth functionality.

There is also precision to consider. Lower-end models will ensure accuracy up to 1/4 inch. For general measurements and estimates, this is sufficient. For jobs where finite accuracy is crucial, such laying pipe, grading and pouring a foundation or grading for a road, look for a model that guarantees accuracy of 1.0 mm or less.

Laser Bobs

Laser bobs have been replacing traditional plumb bobs for years, and for good reason. They, like any other type of laser measuring tool, are not only more convenient but also more accurate. Unlike an analogue tool, a laser bob takes seconds to settle and create a straight line. This is especially useful when hanging doors, framing windows, rooms, ceilings and more. Some laser bobs are also self-leveling, with an internal system that acts essentially as a computerized pendulum. These levels also can calculate multiple points at once, creating nearly instantaneous 90-degree angles.

Many of these models have magnetic mounts. They can also typically be secured via tripod or strap. Look for telescoping poles to help get measurements in hard-to-reach areas.

Laser Levels

Digital levels have become the go-to replacement for liquid levels. Dual-plane levels help align two different surfaces in a 360-degree plane for a variety of jobs including framing, plumbing and more. Pulsating modes help keep the lasers distinctive and easy to read in bright lighting conditions. As with electronic laser bobs, many laser levels feature an internal “”smart”” pendulum that allows the device to self-level. Manual settings let you to make line locks at any angle. Many digital levels and angle finders include a traditional bubble level for quick readings that don’t require battery power.

Laser levels can also help measure the distance between two objects, or help line up items that are relatively far apart. This may help for not only hanging artwork and mirrors, but for window framing, window treatments, and installing molding. These tools can also be crucial for accurately installing new plumbing accurately.

Transit Level

A surveyor uses a Bosch Automatic Optical Level.

A transit level is a type of tool used primarily by surveyors and builders. Transit levels are essentially telescopes that mount to a tripod with an internal spirit level. Digital transit levels use lasers and optical equipment to make automatic calculations for reference lines, angles, and other readings.

Large commercial lasers and transit levels have features that are quite useful for larger surveys and building sites. A rotary laser creates full, 360-degree measurements with long ranges of 1,300 feet or more. Some kits include a receiver to help ensure accuracy at even greater distances.

Surface Laser

A surface laser helps line up surfaces to guarantee accuracy. Some surface lasers determine a straight line even if the actual surface is uneven, which is key for ground surveying. It can create 45, 90 and 135 degree angles from a single set up to ensure that you are laying your lines evenly. These tools mount magnetically or via tripod.

Look for options like Bluetooth connectivity to help interface with mobile apps which will store and calculate measurements for you. Some of this software can directly engage with your floor plans or diagrams through popular design software. This makes formulating estimates on the site or shopping for equipment even faster and easier.

Multi-Angle Measurement

One of the primary advantages of how laser measuring tools function is their multi-angle capability. Simply mount a multi-angle laser to a tripod, fasten it to a column or hang it from a wall and allow it to measure multiple angles at once. Many multi-angle lasers also perform multiple calculations for you with the data collected. Depending upon the nature of your work, this could help improve your estimates and overall workflow.

Create single vertical and horizontal lines in a variety of combinations depending upon what you’re measuring. A 360-degree laser gives you coverage of an entire room or large area. Self-leveling technology ensures that the device corrects itself, even from one set up point.


If you’re preparing to bore into an existing wall, you need to ensure that you’re not damaging existing cables, plumbing or electrical conduit. Multi-scanners are measuring tools that use radar technology to detect live wiring, metals, and plastic conduit. The convenience of these tools is that they can remain stationary and detect the areas immediately surrounding them. Wide-band scanners can detect a large radius through dense materials, such as thick concrete.

Most scanners emit a sound as well as a light when it detects a pipe, stud or wires. Many run on regular batteries so powering them is simple and doesn’t require a charger. Look for features such as a center finder, which locates the center of a detected object, to give you even greater accuracy.

Scanner TypeDetection Modes (Average)Scan DepthLight and Sound DisplaysCenter Finder
Wall ScannerThreeThin walls/floorsX
Standard Multi ScannerThreeStandard wallsXX
Wide-Band ScannerSix or more6-inches dense materials (concrete)XX

Key Accessories for your Measurement Tool

There are several different types of laser accessories that help make your measurement tool function with greater accuracy. A wall mount is a simple and affordable solution that allows you to mount the laser level to a single spot. This device typically attaches via a clip or a clamp to ceiling trim or a beam. Look for options that include several height adjustments for different types of measuring tools.

Pole systems and rods help elevate the height of the laser level to measure distances either high above or below you. Telescoping rods can adjust to different lengths depending upon the situation. Tension poles secure almost anywhere in the room for convenient and steady 360-degree measuring, or capturing multiple angles. These accessories are easily mounted and taken down without tools or hardware.
The most popular accessory for the professional is the mounting tripod. Most manufacturers offer a line of tripods designed specifically for their larger multi-angle transit levels and surface lasers. They also work with point lasers to hold a steady line for all types of measuring circumstances.

Look for tripods made of heavier and sturdier equipment for outdoor uses, such as roadwork and surveys. These are typically rated for professional construction jobs and are weightier and made of higher-grade materials than lower-end tripods. They may also have a center column that can make smoother and quicker height adjustments and could have a greater overall height allowance.

Electronic and leaser measurement tools provide more accuracy and may be easier to use than their analogue counterparts. Bluetooth functionality helps make calculations on the fly and add data to existing plans. These versatile features can determine how to choose a measuring tool to help your projects go more smoothly and help make on-site estimates more accurate.

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